Complementarities in CSO Collaborations: How Working with Diversity Produces Advantages

Margit van Wessel, Farhat Naz and Sarbeswar Sahoo

A commonly explored theme in international civil society organisation (CSO) collaborations is the dominance of Northern CSOs and how this impinges on Southern CSOs’ autonomy, but there is little work on the relative importance of different collaborations for Southern CSOs. This study examined complementarity as a new approach to understanding CSO collaboration. Seeking Southern perspectives, we examined the case of CSOs working on disaster risk reduction in India and developed a typology of complementarities in this domain.

The article considers the implications for understanding complemen-tarity in broader CSO collaborations. We find that con-structing collaborations through the lens of complementarity may facilitate capitalising on diversity among CSOs and help build collaborations that consider the domestic orientation of many Southern CSOs and reshape the roles of Northern CSOs as complementary rather than leading.

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